Article main image
Sep 15, 2022

Regular visitors to will know that we are unabashedly proud about the power of progressive HR.

But to really be the voice of the HR sector, it’s the views of HR practitioners themselves that matter.

That’s why we’re kicking off a brand new series, that we’re calling ‘It works for me…’

Comprising articles written by ordinary HR folk, about the issues that impact them on a day-to-day basis, we aim to present easily actionable observations made ‘by’ HR professionals ‘for’ HR professionals.

First out of the starting blocks is Lauren Abe – head of people culture & development for the .

In her guest piece, she says HR professionals need to be just as interested in micro-frictions as they are broader issues.

 Here’s what she has to say…

It works for me…. Address micro-frictions first

“When everyone is talking about turnover it’s no surprise HR and organizational leaders have responded by creating ever-more robust action plans; those with detailed steps, dashboards and accountability metrics. Included in these plans are sign on bonus’, retention bonus’, more robust onboarding plans, hand written notes from the CEO…the list could go on.

But are they really what matters? Sure, these initiatives have merit. Quite rightly, leaders should be more involved with creating an exceptional onboarding experience. And yes, we need to compensate employees fairly.

But – as an HR practitioner – what I feel is often overlooked is the everyday experience of working on a team or at an organization – things I call the micro-points of friction.

Let me explain in more detail.

I’ve conducted hundreds of exit interviews. Since the pandemic however, I’ve noticed employees say they’re leaving for one of three reasons: to move home or closer to friends and family; for a better opportunity; and for more compensation.

Now, as an organization, there’s often very little we can do to prevent turnover type one. Here, the best strategy is to wish them well and keep the door open.

With regard to type two and three – this makes sense. Rarely does someone leave for a worse opportunity and/or less compensation. But – and here’s the rub – the opportunity or the compensation that is often being sought is often not the driver for leaving the organization. Rather, it’s all the micro-moments, the micro-frictions staff experience that have led the individual to take their leap.

Employment relationships are like any other relationship. Think about your own relationships. How often have you have you “broken up” with someone after a single event, like a fight?  I once told my daughter’s pediatrician that I was breaking up with him and the practice because they weren’t listening to me and wanted to run unnecessary tests.

However, typically, it’s not the one event that leads to shutting that door. More often, it’s the day-to-day needs that aren’t being met that drive relationships apart.

When I listen to what employees want out of their relationship with their leader, team and organization, it’s not a purple unicorn.

What I hear is a desire for respect. I hear responses like “I get frustrated when I don’t get a response, because I can’t do my job,” or “I don’t feel valued.”

How much does it cost to address the “little” things on your team versus the cost of replacement?

When I say “little” things, I mean the things that most of us would say there’s no way that a person is leaving because of XYZ.

Nonetheless, those actions stack up. So, before investing in the large, sexy action plans, I believe it’s time to get back to the basics.

Concentrate on how you make people ‘feel’

I often think about something the civil rights activist, Maya Angelou once said, which is that: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said and people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

So ask yourself this: “How do your team members feel when shutting their computers down or clocking out for the day?”

Recently, I had a couple tough interactions at work, and told my boyfriend. His response was, did you see the posting for… And it struck me, that’s how turnover happens.

What we really need to do is ensure employees are signing off with a positive experience. Recruitment and retention action plans are expensive Band-Aids if we’re not creating an environment that compels someone to stay.

Closing the loop, responding to emails, showing appreciation, demonstrating listening, putting the relationship first are all free tools that we all have access to today to turn around turnover.

I say don’t dismiss the “small” stuff, even more importantly know what “small” stuff bothers those on your team.”